Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson tossed out a criminal charge against former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig, a blow to the Justice Department’s efforts this year to prosecute foreign lobbying violations as criminal acts.
Jackson threw out a charge that accused Craig of making a criminal false statement by omitting information about his work for a foreign government on a letter sent to the Justice Department in 2013.
“A scheme offense must be based on active falsification or concealment, and not merely passivity or silence,” she added, citing previous court cases about false statements.
She wrote that the criminal code couldn’t justify his case. “The legislature’s clear intent cannot be discerned,” Jackson wrote in her opinion dismissing the false statement charge. “Given this ambiguity concerning the breadth of the provision and the documents to which it was intended to apply, the rule of lenity requires the dismissal of the count.”
Craig is still charged with engaging in a scheme to knowingly falsify a foreign lobbying disclosure to the Justice Department. He had not told the Justice Department in 2013 he had worked alongside Paul Manafort as a paid agent of Ukrainian politicians, prosecutors allege.
Craig goes to trial next week. He has maintained his innocence.
The case was originally investigated by the office of special counsel as it looked into Manafort, but is currently being handled by the DC US Attorney’s Office.